Stepping out after months of living at home in a state of suspended animation, days slipping endlessly into a timeless vortex, is a bit like re discovering a freshly mapped world, branching out into new routes and directions.
Old habits die hard so the thought of a leisurely meal at a restaurant, seems like a good place to start. The newly opened place, interestingly named Trapeze, has soaring, life size, cast iron eagles, suspended from an atrium, with a clear and most welcome view of the sky. And a wall mural of trapeze artistes, which makes me think our our present, precariously perched situation, too. Packed with youngsters, catching up on lost times and chatter, over glasses of wine, live music and noisy exhuberance, the masked waiters and the scanned menus on phones, the only visible reminders, that the virus is still lurking in the background.
The tensions of the immediate past, though, seems to have also taken flight, in the face of the buoyant young spirits ,soaring like the cast iron eagles, on the wings of dreams, once again. A pleasant lunch and an accompanying feeling of relief that things haven’t changed that much after all.
As it turns out, a bit of a hasty conjecture, that.
Two days later, another lunch, this time at a friend’s place, along with only two other guests because its safer. Masks, dispensed with because everyone present is double vaccinated. Covid comes up repeatedly during the course of the conversation, but we are tired of discussing its miseries and move on quickly. Third wave? We sidestep that one too. We are all clear that it will happen when it will happen and perhaps, it’s bound to happen. But for now we revel in this timely reprieve, conscious, that even meeting up at home is different from before and goodbyes are always, be careful, stay safe!
Later in the week, a reluctant sortie to a big store to buy some essentials. Short on staff, plus dodging buyers and being paranoid about the person standing behind in the checkout line, keeping safe distance. Sweating and feeling stifled because the air conditioning is off, in accord with covid restrictions. No denying that things on this front have changed and quite drastically, too.
The new world rears it’s sanitized head again, in a long overdue visit to the dentists chair, made even more surreal by ppe clad doctor and assistants, speaking in muffled tones behind mask, face shield and cap. Almost as unnerving as the shriek of the dentists drill.
A few days later, a definite yearning for open spaces, leads to Calcutta Cricket and Football Club, the oldest cricket club outside UK, where entry is allowed only after vaccination certificates are furnished.The chairs and tables are socially distant, the lights turned off mandatorily, at a govt specified hour.
The club attendants appear relieved to be working again,the members looking older, greyer, somewhat tired but the smiles making up for it all. Catching up with friends again, roaming in the vast playing greens and walking freely under the open blue skies. Albeit, masked.
Makes me wonder, if all this could be a limited preview of a flipped world, where freedom and luxury has been re defined, good health is the biggest wealth,a hug and touch, re valued and the meaning of gratitude, re-learnt.
So much has happened over the past few months in this part of the world, as indeed, everywhere. Each of us with our own stories of how we survived the hellish second wave, a deadly cyclone before that, devastating floods in and around the country after that, the many covid related deaths, sometimes of whole families, the ongoing financial distress and mental turmoil, the uncertainty of the present and the future.
But because of that very uncertainty, the courage to hope and the wisdom to know that everything is possible if given the effort.
So here we are now. Older, wiser, battle scarred, re writing our scripts and strategies every day but ready to head out again, into an ever changing world.
Just goes to show that no matter how hard the ride, the human spirit is always up for any challenge, big or small.